Practical Carriage Building
Compiled by M.T. Richardson, Vol.1. 1891
Locust for Carriage Parts and Wheels
The difficulty experienced in procuring first quality hickory causes much extra expense to the builders of really first-class light carriages. White ash has been substituted in some cases with good results; but prime white ash is really more difficult to obtain than hickory, so that the evil is not remedied by the use of ash. The only timber possessing the requisite qualities which grows in quantities sufficiently great to afford real relief is locust.
This is found in the North, but it is lacking in the one quality—elasticity; but the locust of the South, notably that growing in Tennessee and in the sections of the States which join on Tennessee, is remarkable for its elasticity up to a certain point. It will not retain it to the same extreme point that hickory will, but it is more active when the deflection is slight. It is also a wonderfully durable timber, takes paint well, and retains its form.
In the latter respect it is equal to the best white ash and superior to hickory. Light wagons in which locust is used for axle beds, spring bars, side bars, and shafts, have been built which have proven by actual test to be equal in every respect to those built of hickory. Locust has long been approved as a good hub timber, use having proven that it is more durable than elm, the only objection to it for light hubs being its solidity, or rather hardness, which does not permit the spokes being driven as tight as they can be in elm.
Light wheels having locust spokes as well as hubs have been made, and the spokes have stood the test to the satisfaction of those who have used them. This being the case, it seems but politic that locust should be put on the market in quantities that will enable carriage builders to procure enough to make good the deficiency in hickory.